by: Eric Rasmussen, Erin Smith Updated:
BOSTON - FOX25 Investigates uncovered political donations from a local politician and his family members to the same elected leaders who nominated him to be a judge.
The Governor’s Office defended its judicial nomination of attorney James Stanton after Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen asked whether there was a conflict of interest.
“He's an upstanding individual, has contributed a lot to community,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who is expected to preside over Stanton’s confirmation vote.
Stanton, a Walpole selectman, made his case for becoming a judge during a three-hour hearing last week. He received high praise from former colleagues and friends for his work as a former prosecutor and private defense attorney.
But FOX25 Investigates also found Stanton has donated to the campaigns for Polito and Gov. Charlie Baker, who nominated Stanton to be a Boston Municipal Court judge last month.
Campaign records show Stanton and his family members contributed a combined $1,500 to Baker and Polito just since 2015 – the same year Stanton first applied to be a judge.
The majority of those donations was made over a two-day period in March 2015.
Stanton wasn’t nominated after he applied in 2015, but he applied again this summer and received a hearing.
“They request on the application for the last three years (of campaign donations),” Stanton told FOX25. “I think it was total of about $450 to Gov. Baker and $600 to Lt. Gov. Polito.”
Stanton told FOX25 he believes he’s “eminently qualified” to be a judge.
“I’m a person who ran for public office myself,” said Stanton, who made two failed bids for state representative in 2010 and 2012. “I understand that politics – that you know, campaign contributions are kind of the lifeblood of running campaigns.”
“You know they have specific rules about when a contribution can be made and I’m not in violation of any such rules,” Stanton told FOX25.
Polito told FOX25 Investigates a non-partisan commission recommended Stanton.
But an elected panel, called the Massachusetts Governor's Council, has the final say and Polito could break a tie vote.
When asked if she felt comfortable casting that vote, Polito said, “Yes, for Mr. Stanton has incredible experience in the courts, trial experience.”
Polito told FOX25, “We don't have a litmus test for the nominees for serving in the judicial branch of government, but we do have an open and transparent and very thorough vetting process.”
Stanton is expected to be confirmed as early as Wednesday morning.
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